Video Tutorial: How to Make Name Tags

Last year I decided to make locker name tags that my students could color.  While I decorate my classroom the way I want to (keeping in mind what I think my kids will like, of course), I do want them to have ownership in my classroom.  I want them to see their work and little personalities all over my room.  So instead of making or purchasing super cute locker tags, I decided to let my kids color their name tags.  Now, I did want their names to be LARGE and BOLD, so I made the templates.  Could I have had them write their names and everything?  Absolutely!  But, I did want them to be somewhat cohesive.  Translated as:  I am a control freak and having different colors on the name tags was me taking a HUGE step, ha!

This may be something that you want to try out in your classroom... if you don't have lockers maybe you have cubbies, book bags, folders, etc.  And, if not... there are a few tips and tricks on this video that might make your life with Power Point a little easier!  Either way, I hope you learn something new :)))

Key Word Kiddos

I don't think it's any secret that math is my favorite subject to teach.  I love coming up with new ideas and lessons to teach something that used to be so boring to me.  As a child I pretty much lived on Math Struggle Street from the 5th grade up.  So, I've made it a goal of mine to make math as exciting and engaging as possible in my classroom!

Last year I really focused on upping my game when it came to word problems.  I noticed that my students would only buy into having fun with word problems if I was a good salesman.  I was constantly having to think of new ways to engage my learners when it came to reading and solving those pesky things.  We became a "Crew" of problem solvers.  We made up silly word problems.  We listened to Lion King music while solving safari problems.  This summer I've been trying to think of a new way to display and teach important key words.  Then, I remembered how much my kids LOVED our Place Value Pals.  They really became part of our classroom... and my students laughed about them up until the last day of school.  I knew I needed to use that idea with key words!

That's where Key Word Kiddos came to life!  The great thing about these guys is I can display them in my classroom and then introduce each character one at a time.  They won't really have a lot of meaning to my kids until I make a HUGE deal out of our new friends throughout our lessons.  We will start off with Addition Addison in the first few weeks of school... then we will move to Subtraction Sullivan... and much later in the year we will meet Division Dianna and Multiplication Murphy!

I made this to where each Key Word Kiddo could be made into a boy or girl.  You can choose your skin and hair color.  AND, you can choose from a variety of eyes and hair styles!  You can really make these look like a fun bunch of kiddos using the templates that I included!

Now, I want to break down each kiddo and show you some of my favorite activities that I do during each of my math focus units.  The images below are all clickable... so you can click on each picture inside of the image and it will take you to the unit, blog post, or freebie where you can locate more information!

Addition Addison will kickstart our Addition Strategies unit (probably the 2nd week of school).  As we are solving problems we will also be learning our doubles, fact families, related facts, etc!




Image MapSometimes it can be hard to switch our brains from adding, adding, adding to now taking away rather than joining together.  Subtraction Sullivan (or Susanna if you make a girl!) will be constantly reminding us that we need to look closely at what our problems are asking!We won't get to multiplication until the 2nd semester, but it never fails that my students start asking me about it early on in the school year.  They know that BIG kids learn how to multiply, so they are always interested!  Multiplication is one of my favorite concepts to teach because everything we do is so hands-on and fun!  Multiplication Murphy will definitely add some spice to our learning! Image Map
We start division at the very end of the year...like when we have ZERO energy left to exert.  But, we do encounter a lot of real-life situations where items need to be shared and people want equal amounts.  I mean, if life isn't fair... well we'll all just cry and tattle, right??!!  Well, Division Dianna (or Dillon) will sure motivate us to keep on learning up until the VERY END of the school year!  We won't have time to get lazy because we will have one more Key Word Kiddo to meet! Image Map
I made these with the intention of ME making them and displaying in my classroom.  BBBBUUUUTTT, they are definitely something that your kiddos could make as well!  Plus, the face templates could be used for several projects throughout the year!  I hope you enjoy these Key Word Kiddos as much as I do!!!  Don't forget... all of those images above are clickable!  You'll find some freebies buried inside :)))

TpT Trick: Making a Unit Preview

Hey y'all!  I wanted to drop in and give you a QUICK and EASY tip to make a unit Preview!  First of all, if you don't already have Picasa on your computer, you can download that HERE for FREE!

If you are using Power Point or anything that takes longer than about 7 minutes to make your unit previews, then you need to STOP right now!  Previews should not be a huge headache, BUT they should be a great visual for teachers to see what your unit is all about!

Here's a quick video that will show you how I make my previews.  This is definitely not the only way to do so, but it's what I have been using over the past few years :)
I hope you found that helpful!  If you have any other preview tips, please leave them in the comments below!

B2S Prep: Classroom Enviornment

I am a firm believer in making your classroom a place that makes YOU (the teacher) and your students happy.  I like a clean and organized classroom... now, that doesn't mean my room is spotless at all times, but I do keep the mess under control if at all possible!  I'm the kind of teacher that is constantly picking up trash, pushing in chairs, organizing table buckets, and throwing stuff away.  {Now, my cabinets and drawers are a different story, ha!}  I've been known to change bulletin boards out more often than not because I'm always looking for ways to improve what's going on in my room.  I do the same thing at my house... I'll switch up decorations, decide over the weekend we need a completely different look for the living room, or frantically clean up the mess that we've been making all week.  It's just who I am as a person, so that definitely translates into my classroom!

This year I added more black fabrics and burlap because it just has a calming feel to me.  The black makes things pop and the burlap gives it a more homey feel.  I just like the contrast of the black and white and the pop of bright colors here and there.  I found all of my material at Hobby Lobby.  My burlap also comes from there and Wal-Mart :)

Now, I am also a believer in leaving room for student work and anchor charts that we make as a class.  BUT, that doesn't mean I leave my classroom empty.  Having the material, border, titles, etc. up shows that I have been anticipating my new students and I'm ready for us to learn and work together!  I've never been one to have completely bare walls on Meet the Teacher night.  I want my kiddos to walk into my room and see that I'm prepared, but there's also room for their little personalities!
Now, let's talk about the three sections of the bulletin board that you are seeing above.  First of all, you'll see my writing board.  This is where I will put our writing anchor charts, student writing examples, and things like that.  

Above you will see my student-generated alphabet.  I've blogged about my alphabet for several years now.  You can find a more detailed post HERE!  I've changed the background to black, but that's the only change I've made.  We still brainstorm our words as a class, divide out the drawing/coloring responsibilities, and tackle the project as a class!  You can find my alphabet headers HERE.  All I did to get this part of my room ready was glue the headers to the top of a black sheet of cardstock and laminate!  These have actually lasted two years now.  Once my students finish their drawings, I just staple on top!  At the end of the year I can simply remove their drawings so that it is ready for my new group!
The wall shown above (in the top picture) is divided into three parts.  The writing section and word wall are actually ONE bulletin board that I divided into two sections by just using different fabrics and trimmer.  The student generated alphabet is above the bulletin boards.  I've just stapled those things onto the wall.  Thankfully, I'm able to staple on all four walls of my classroom :)

On day one my word wall is completely empty other than the material, border, and alphabet letters.  Now, I used to make all of my alphabet letters for my word wall, or print, laminate, and cut.  BUT, I've gotten lazy over the years.  Now, I just use Pre-Cut punch out letters.  You can find the ones that I have HERE.  I don't laminate because I don't want to cut circles out, ha!  

The reason I don't put up ANY sight words before my students come into the room is because I want all of those words to be meaningful to them.  We add words as they are discussed and practiced.  Most of my words come from a list that my district has provided, but I also add words as my students request (aka ask me how to spell over and over again).  You can find out more about some of the fun activities we do with my word wall HERE!!
Sticking to the Sight Words Pack HERE

 One of my favorite parts of my classroom is this giant tree that I have stapled to my back wall.  After four years I finally redid it because it was just soooo dusty!  All I did was get the brown butcher paper roll from our workroom and cut/crinkle/staple until I got the look I wanted!  I started with the trunk and then did the branches one at a time until I filled up the space.  It was super easy and only took about an hour to make.  The last thing I needed to do was add the leaves that I made out of construction paper!  This tree anchors one of my reading areas :)  

To the left of the tree you'll see pictures of my students on my cabinets.  That's something I implemented after visiting the Ron Clark Academy in the winter.  Those pictures just brighten up my classroom environment and give my students ownership in their learning space.  I'm going to be doing a lot more with their pictures in the upcoming year, so I'll keep you posted!
So, that gives you a little peek into my classroom and a few things that I think are important in my classroom environment!  Of course, all of these things are MY opinion... which are just based on my personal preferences and teaching experience :))  

It's a TpT Trick {with a video}

On Sunday I participated in my very first LIVE Periscope.  If you aren't sure what Periscope is... check out THIS Blog Hoppin' post!  My username is @stepinto2nd :)

In my little session (which is automatically deleted after 24 hours) was all about fixing up your social media profile pictures so that you can include your name and/or blog name!  Well, I was all kinds of nervous during that Periscope, so I just couldn't post the original... but, I did want to share the tutorial with y'all!  So, I made a new version that you can check out below!  Hopefully next time I won't be so embarrassed of my Periscope when I re-watch it, ha!
You can also click HERE to watch!
Is there anything you'd like to learn about using PowerPoint?  I hope to do more tricks and tips in the future, but would love ideas on what is needed out there!

Teacher Blogger Meet-Up 2015!


The meet up that we held in Vegas last week was AMAZING!! There really isn't many other words that could describe it. Picture 1100 teachers in a room together, having fun, meeting new people, and winning lots of prizes. We were all smiling so hard that our cheeks hurt. It was a great night and we appreciate all of the many teachers and bloggers who came and had a fabulous night with us. 

First and foremost, we have to give a HUGE shout out to Teachers Pay TeachersSDE, and GoNoodle!  These sponsors not only donated generous amounts of giveaway swag, they also helped organize and make our meet-up extraordinary!
It's safe to say that in a mix of 1,100 educators, we all appreciate staff development that is fun, engaging, and inspiring.  SDE donated several different staff development gift certificates... from online seminars to National Conference passes!
Not only did TpT host their very own conference, but they were also so generous when it came to our blogger meet-up!  Who wouldn't get excited about FIFTY TpT gift certificates??!!  That's right, FIFTY lucky winners went home with a little money to spend at TpT!  Oh, and those drink passes?  Those were from TpT as well!
I mean, what would we have done without those amazing GoNoodle swag bags??  Plus, they brought in the neatest PhotoBooth that you ever did see!  AND, we can't forget Freckles, the GoNoodle mascot!  How fun was it that he was running around snapping pictures with people all night long??
We had so many other sponsors that helped donate over $55,000 worth of swag, prizes, and goodies!  Can you believe that?!  I don't know about you, but to us... that's a whole lotta love for teachers!  Let's take a look at these amazing prizes...

Who loves Scentos out there?  Teachers AND students love the fun-loving smell of all the Scentos goodies out there!  Scentos gave markers and stickers to all of our attendees!  Isn't that amazing?!
Who doesn't want a precious {and FREE} bulletin board set to start off the new year?!  Creative Teaching Press sent bulletin board sets to every single person who came to our meet-up!  A couple of lucky teachers went home with a Creative Teaching Press gift card as well!
Erin Condren sent products that were hot off the press!  Have you seen their teacher posters,  teacher bundles, and teacher planners?  Erin Condren makes lesson planning a beautiful thing!
Speaking of beautiful things... check out these too cute to boot Vera Bradley gift baskets!  Vera's bags are PERFECT for teachers, moms, and well... anyone who loves pretty things :)
Now, we all know how stylish all you teachers are out there!  The Pampered Teacher donated TWENTY Teacher Subscription boxes to our lovely attendees!  These boxes are designed to help teachers keep up-to-date with the latest trends and styles without any hassle!
If there is something that we know... it's that teachers LOVE getting new tech-goodies for their classroom!  So many times our schools, districts, and counties just don't have enough funds to outfit our classroom with the latest and greatest, but we sure are glad that our sponsors are willing to step up to the plate!  Hue HD gave 11 different doc cams!  Isn't that amazing?!
ESGI is all about helping teachers simplify giving meaningful assessments.  They were so generous to donate a GRADE-LEVEL license!  That's up to TEN teachers that get to use ESGI for an entire year! Plus they even included a little gift basket of goodies!
Alive Studios' mission is simple:  to equip teachers with engaging solutions that help young students become proficient in reading and math by 3rd grade.  I mean, who doesn't want to get on board with that?!
Do you want your students to come to the carpet, line up, and transition in an organized and FUN manner?!  Sit Spots knows how important spatial management is for teachers!  That's why they sent FIVE $100 gift certificates to our meet-up!!
Now that we are talking about staying organized, let's focus on Seat Sacks!  THREE lucky winners went home with different Seat Sack Packs!  These teachers will now be able to have a classroom full of organized and tidy students!
Carson Dellosa has been in the business of making teachers happy for over 38 years!  If you have taught for any amount of time you have probably purchased their classroom resources, decor items, or supplemental materials!  Not only did they give cut-out accents to every attendee, they also donated three gift baskets
It's no secret that the Ron Clark Academy has been positively impacting education for several years now!  Well, now that our sweet Hope King and her precious hubby are teachers there, we are getting to see even more incredible things that are happening there!  Several bloggers have visited over the past year, and now TWO more teachers will get to plan a visit thanks to the generosity of Ron and Kim! If you can't get to their Academy right away, you many want to check out their newest books: Move Your Bus by Ron Clark, Crash Course by Kim Beaden, and Inside the Trenches by Adam Dovico.
Have you seen the Ellison All-Star machines?  These die-cutting machines are portable and easy to take on-the-go!  Ellison generously donated FIVE of their AllStar SuperStar Machines!  They also sent goodies for our swag bags... that every attendee was able to take home!
While we are on the subject of classroom goodies, let's talk about Teacher Created!  They donated THREE gift baskets showcasing their very own classroom decor materials!
Do you teach about butterfly life-cycles in your classroom??  If so, you MUST check out Insect Lore!  They are the original Butterflies-By-Mail company!  Everyone went home with a package of 3D insect stickers at our meet-up!
Kaplan provides developmentally-appropriate educational products to families, early education professionals, and classrooms! 
Looking to jazz up your laptop, phone, or tablet?  Skin It makes those devices that we are so addicted to even better than before!    
If you haven't heard of Kim Sutton's math materials, you must stop what you are doing and check them out NOW!  She brings the fun into your math instruction!!  Creative Mathematics generously gave a Staff Development DVD :)

Lakeshore Learning is no stranger to education, right?!   We all know and love their teacher-and-student-friendly products!  Their STEM kits were the perfect gifts for our winners!
Who doesn't love a pretty notepad, desk organizer, and cards?!  Well, we have all known that Krista Wallden brings her A-Game to clipart, but she's also knocking it out of the park with her new Creative Paper Collection!  Of course, we just adore her new designs that make scheduling and planning such a pretty thing!
OHHHH, and if you love adding personal touches to your classroom, home, and well, pretty much anything... you MUST check out Silhouette America!  You NEED this cutting system in your life!  Silhouette donated a Portrait and Cameo to our get-together!
Are you a blogger?!  Are you looking to start a blog OR revamp your blog-look??  Jumping Jax Designs offers printables, invitations, AND blog designs!  We can't wait to see the look that our winner and Jumping Jax comes up with!









As you can see, this turned out to be the biggest teacher and blogger bash of the century. Thanks again to all our generous sponsors who made the night possible and to all of you who were able to be there in person! 

The last shout of of the night goes out to all those who planned and organized this event over the past year. These girls reached out to all the sponsors and helped make the night such a success! (Not to mention they helped fill over 600 swag bags…)


An InLinkz Link-up




We'd love to hear from you! Leave us a comment telling us which of our prizes you would have liked to win. If you were there, please share with us one of your favorite memories from the night.

Personal Financial Literacy

The very last math unit that I taught this past year was Personal Financial Literacy (if you don't teach in Texas then you would refer to this as Economics!).  I had ZERO resources to pull from.  I had ZERO energy to make anything new.  So, I taught using our math book (insert HUGE gasp here).  It wasn't horrible, but it was soooo short of awesome-sauce.  So, I knew what my first summer project would be!

I set out to make some fun activities for my future kiddos, and Joelle helped me a lot!  She loves to cut and color, so she is the perfect little helper!
I also know that whether you are teaching this as an Economics or Math unit that vocabulary is KEY!  So, I included a lot of financial vocabulary in the unit!  There are also several vocabulary activities to help your students really learn those terms!
Here's a fun freebie I posted in the fall!  It goes great with teaching money and financial literacy!